Procurement: How The Swedes Got Played By The Czechs

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April 27, 2015: Germany recently agreed to allow a Czech company to sell Russian BMP-1 IFVs (Infantry Fighting Vehicles) to Iraq. The Czechs had bought these BMP-1s from Sweden (which had retired them) in 2010. Why did the Czechs need German permission? In the 1990s, after Germany was reunited Sweden had bought East German Army BMP-1s. These were no longer needed because the Russian equipped East German armed forces were disbanded and most of their Russian made equipment sold or scrapped. Sweden eventually retired the BMP-1s and the Czechs bought 280 outdated and heavily used IFVs. The Swedes thought the Czechs wanted to scrap or use the BMP-1s themselves but the Czechs had been selling Russian era military equipment to Iraq which, until Saddam was overthrown in 2003 had been using lots of similar Russian gear (like Czech T-72s). The Iraqis had, after 2008, become a big market for inexpensive Russian equipment.

The Swedes themselves refused to sell the BMP-1s to Iraq for fear the Iraqis would so something not politically correct with them. When the Swedes discovered that the Czechs were selling the former BMP-1s to Iraq they were angry. The Swedes tried to prevent the sale by pointing out that they had agreed to German requirements that Germany must grant permission for any subsequent resale of former East German weapons. Ultimately the Germans were persuaded that it was in the best interests of NATO (which Germany and the Czech Republic belong to and Sweden does not) that Iraq get the BMP-1s. The Iraqis agreed to use the BMP-1s only for national defense, crisis management or UN peace missions. Any other uses (like invading a neighbor) needed German permission. Meanwhile the Czechs made a nice profit on what the Swedes thought was equipment sold for scrap. The Germans went along partly because it was NATO policy to help rearm the Iraqis and partly because the Swedes, who are notoriously shrewd traders, got played by the Czechs. 

 


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